Saturday 23 February 2019

Amazon's new store launch doesn't quite Go to plan

Amazon employee Krishna Iyer shows off an Amazon Go app as he shops in the store. Photo: AP
Amazon employee Krishna Iyer shows off an Amazon Go app as he shops in the store. Photo: AP

Katie Morley

Amazon's first "supermarket of the future" was hit with teething problems because a sophisticated algorithm monitoring shoppers failed to take into account naughty children.

The Amazon Go store, which has no checkouts, opened its doors in Seattle in the US for the first time yesterday after a year of testing to perfect the technology. Instead of tills it uses dozens of ceiling-mounted cameras to identify customers and to track which items they pick up and leave with.

Before arriving at the store shoppers must download the Amazon Go smartphone app and enter their card details. The app connects to sensors on shop shelves, which add items to customers' digital shopping baskets as they pick them up. Their card is charged when they leave. Items are removed from the basket if returned to the shelves.

However, an Amazon insider told the BBC there had been some "teething problems", with cameras getting confused by shoppers with similar body shapes and by children moving items.

Experts said that, while the concept could reduce shopping time, it would fail to catch on because it could be viewed as a "surveillance step too far".

Scott Gallacher, director at the investment company Moneyfarm, said: "Although improving convenience, it will contribute to overspending and encourage short-term mindsets. Checkout-less shopping removes a crucial checkpoint for customers.

"Clear price labelling will be critical to ensure that individuals can maintain their budget."

© Daily Telegraph, London

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